J. Pitts, 7 Dials

8. Besides the sound of hawkers in the street, old and new ballads were disseminated orally at home and in more social settings. However, the variety of ballad-sheets available, their popularity, and the social value of being able to read them would have provided a strong incentive to achieve literacy. It is very likely that ballad-sheets played a significant role in the expansion of literacy and reading in the early nineteenth century, long before the 1870 Education Acts in Britain.